It seems almost absurd that this news would break on Christmas Day of all times. BBC NEWS | Americas | US singer Eartha Kitt dies at 81 Eartha Kitt with Friends Santa Baby American singer and actress Eartha Kitt has died at the age 81, a family friend has said. Kitt was said to have been suffering from colon cancer. She was one of the few artists to be nominated in the Tony, Grammy and Emmy award categories and was a stalwart of the Manhattan cabaret scene. She famously played Catwoman in the 1960s Batman television series and was known for her distinctive, feline drawl. Kitt was blacklisted in the US in the late 1960s after speaking out against the Vietnam War at a White House function. However, she returned triumphantly to New York's Broadway in a 1974 production, Timbuktu!, and continued to perform regularly in theatre shows and concert halls. She rose to the top of the entertainment world from humble origins. Her mother worked on a cotton plantation and was just 14 when she gave birth. Kitt was then given away at the age of eight and sent to live with an aunt in New York.